One of the best feelings in the world is having a very close relationship with someone. Maybe it’s your spouse, best friend, or a family member. From having our faces in our cell phones 24/7 to the acquaintances we have at work we need close relationships.
There is such a disconnect in our culture today between people. Some people don’t even know how to talk to one another let alone have a personal and close relationship. Beyond this disconnect we suffer the unkind scrutiny and attempt to divide us in our nation.
Civil discourse has been out the window for a while. A few trigger words will have you on your heels wishing you didn’t reach out or communicate at all. The last thing any of us needs is someone biting our head off for expressing biblical views.
But there is no relationship that can be as intimate and beneficial as your walk with Jesus. He understands you better than anyone else because his Spirit dwells in you. He knows your heart, your desires, intentions, and motives. Where other people can twist your words Jesus enjoys hearing from you.
We all need that close relationship, especially with our Lord and Savior. We can no so many of his facets. But we all want to become his friend. As we walk through life with him we learn more and more who he is and how he loves us so deeply.
Walking in His Presence
The Bible calls growing in Christ walking with him. The New Testament often uses “walking” to describe vibrant living with Christ. To walk is to live. But how do we grow closer to Jesus as we live out our faith?
It all starts with spending time with Jesus. We don’t get the benefits of our relationship with him without putting in the work. There are many things he gives us as part of our relationship with him. We don’t have to work for them. But if we want to grow deeper we have to put forth effort.
This is not about works salvation. We already know Jesus when we walk with him. We are already saved. I’m talking about growing in Christ, listening to and obeying the Holy Spirit. This is how we dwell in Jesus’ presence.
There is no relationship in the universe in which you grow deeper in intimacy with another person unless you spend quality time, express your desire for that person, and are challenged to continue growing closer. It’s the same with Jesus.
It’s only when we obey the Holy Spirit and change what he commands us to change that we are conformed to the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29). The steps toward a more intimate relationship with Jesus are different for every person.
What I mean by this is that each of us is on a different step of the path toward holiness with him. The Holy Spirit is challenging you based on the background, the issues you have faced in the past, and the character flaws he wants you to change.
These are tailored approaches to becoming more like him. The Holy Spirit guides you in his presence. We learn to listen to the Spirit’s voice. He always testifies about Jesus and is the Spirit of Truth, always telling us the truth about ourselves as we listen to him and grow.
So your goal if you want to know Jesus more is to develop a close relationship with the Holy Spirit. As you learn to hear his voice and obey him he works on your character and behavior to make you more like Jesus.
Walking with His Spirit
Growing in Christ requires you to do whatever the Holy Spirit places in front of you. Galatians 5 talks about walking with the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26). Paul contrasts the works of the flesh, our old passions and desires before we met Christ, with living in the Spirit and keeping in step with him.
Growing in Christ requires us to deny the flesh and maintain our desire for God and the things of God. The best way to do this is to live by the Spirit. When we keep our eyes on Jesus it’s hard to look at all the other things around us in this world.
Walking with the Spirit requires us to grow in ways we never imagined. He will cultivate his fruit in you. Paul contrasts the fruit of the Spirit with the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-23). While he lists 19 works of the flesh there are only nine characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit.
At first glance you think that there are nine different fruit of the Spirit but these are actually 9 characteristics of one fruit of the Spirit. The “fruit” is the work he does in our character and behavior. He is changing our character to resemble Jesus.
Some scholars see love as the chief fruit while the other characteristics of the fruit specify what love is. Others see these 9 characteristics as different facets of the fruit of the Spirit. No matter how you look at it he is cultivating his fruit in you, drawing you closer to Jesus by making you more like him.
You will continue to develop your relationship with Jesus. As you stay on the path of obedience to the Holy Spirit he will do great things in and through you. Prayer and communing in his presence leads you into the greatest wonders and treasures this world cannot offer.
Walking in His Power
As the Holy Spirit lays the foundation of his fruit in your character and behavior, he prepares you to serve Jesus. Growing deeper in your relationship with him requires the Spirit’s work in your character and life, but it also requires you to get to know the Lord.
We must not mix facts about Jesus with knowledge of him as a Person, our Friend and Confidant. To grow deeper with him means to spend the time in prayer and Bible study. I know everyone talks about this but so few Christians are doing it.
You can’t hear his voice if you don’t open his Word. You can’t have the power to live the Christian life in front of people who disagree with the Bible, being part of the church, and talking about Jesus. We need God’s Word to speak to us every day. It’s where we get the power for living.
But this isn’t the only place. There’s something about the power of his presence. There are so many different ways to learn how to know Jesus in his precious presence. There are times when the silence speaks volumes, the noise brings victory, and he speaks in a way you hear him.
We don’t spend time at the altar like we used to. We don’t surrender ourselves, our schedules, and our plans to the Lord. And when we don’t show a devotion to him, and disgust for the world and sin, and a desire to seek him above all other things in our lives we can’t expect him to want to be with us.
There’s not only power for living in learning how to sit in his presence and wait on him but the Holy Spirit empowers us for service in his kingdom. He gives us gifts on top of his fruit, gifts that help us minister for him. This is how he works through us to help others.
It takes a lifetime of learning how to exist in God’s presence and long for him. We don’t learn it by osmosis, by accident, or by just receiving without doing anything. We must put some skin in the game. We must spend the time and the effort. And when we do he comes into our hearts and lives like a rushing flood.
Knowing Jesus and growing in your relationship with him isn’t just a hand-me-down. You don’t get it just because you came to him and asked him to dwell in your heart. He does that for sure. But if you really want to know him in a deep and intimate way you must put forth the effort and desire him.
Let us all desire to be with the Lord, to experience the foretaste of knowing Jesus and declaring that he is good. May we know him and not just facts about him. And may he come to us and show us how great he truly is. Leave a comment and describe your walk with Jesus and how you have cultivated your relationship with him.